A Little Salt for My Children

I am telling this as a picture in my mind. A story I heard my aunt telling a friend of hers when I was very young. My mom, her older sister and younger brother were the only ones of eight left at home during the 'Great Depression'. Living five miles out of town, just west of Superior Arizona across the road from the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Living in an old shack on a rocky, cactus studded slope overlooking a dry wash. They had to carry water in a bucket nearly a mile from a gypsum laden water well from the Arboretum. My grandfather had died a year or so earlier, leaving them to fend for themselves in this hardscrabble environment in the middle of virtually nowhere and no way to grow anything there in the desert.

A Little Salt For My Children

She was standing there with the bowl on the old table. There were two cups of flour in it, a tablespoon of baking powder and she had part of a cup of bacon drippings the neighbor lady had traded her the week before. Staring out the sun faded glass of the window, she was welcoming the spring.

She knew that it would be only a few weeks with the flowers blooming that the bees living in an old box near the dry wash would have enough honey to share so her children would have a little to put on their only food, the biscuits she made from the sack of flour that the government gave them on the first of the month along with the tin of baking powder, a tin of meat and a small box of salt. She had run short of fat for the biscuits and the gravy she made and had to trade some salt for the fat.

Standing there listening to her children play outside she wondered what she could do.

The flour offerings wouldn't be very edible without some salt to add.

She decided that she would walk into town to the mine's store and see what she could do, or promise, to get a little salt to make it a few more days until the government wagon came and gave them their monthly fare. She could make the two pound tin of meat feed all four of them for two weeks or more by just putting a little in a lot of gravy. She never took any meat for herself, she always let her children have it and took only gravy for herself.

She went ahead, mixing a little grease into the flour to finish her meal for her small children.

The walk to town had been taxing and as she stood in line with her small jar she noticed her neighbor that lived in the canyon over from her get out of her buggy and tie up the horse to the rail.

Standing there praying, her stomach in knots, she knew Mr.Griffey, the storekeeper, would embarrass her in front of the other customers about her outstanding bill of five or so dollars. She had only been able to pay a dollar or so on it in several months.

Mrs.Gibson came in with a little bag, saw her immediately and went to her.

"Widow Bennett, I have been meaning to get over to your place for some time now and thank you. Your bees have been coming all the way over to our canyon and this is the first year our fruit trees have produced and they were so bountiful because of the pollination they gave us. We are so thankful and can't figure how those bees could ever find us so many miles away." "Only the good Lord would probably know that though". "I have several jars of preserves for you. We want to share because we wouldn't have anything again this year if it wasn't for them."

"And Mr.Griffy, that barrel of salt is in the back of my buggy if you want to get your boys to unload it."

"Now widow Bennett, where were we?" "Oh yes, we have put up so many preserves and we still have lots of fresh fruit ripening daily that we can dry and use on through this winter. We have more than we can use so if you'd like to get some you are more than welcome. We did have an unfortunate thing happen this past winter, our well went salt on us and we had to carry water for weeks 'till we could find a spot that had fresh water and get a new well dug, but everything is fine now and I guess it was really a blessing because now we have more salt than we can ever use, even for our meat curing."

"Our sow had a good litter last spring and the Mr. put up more than we could sell because no one has any money to buy our meat so we are going to give some to the widow Granny Crow and we'd like you to have some too."

"We know your children will really enjoy the sweet preserves and the hams and bacons too."

"I'll give you a ride home and we'll go by my place and get those things gathered up so we can carry it in the buggy."

"We'll pick the fruit that's ripe too and you can work on drying it while the weather is warm."

"What did you walk into town for widow Bennett?"

"I came to pray,,,,,,,uh,,,, get a little salt, I ran out sometime back Mrs. Gibson."

"Well you won't have to worry about that anymore, we have plenty for everyone".

"Lets go get that stuff and pick the fruit so we can get to your place before dark widow Bennett".

" Those fresh fruit pies you can make will really make those three kids of yours happy too."

Reflections by; Mark Crider cccoat@swbell.net

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